Back in the Chamber

By Steven Libowitz   |   February 6, 2020

The Lobero Theatre Chamber Music Project, which had a sneak preview concert early last month, mounts the first of a planned annual festival this weekend by pairing Artistic and Music Director Heiichiro Ohyama, the violist who previously helmed the now defunct Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and violinist Benjamin Beilman, who Ohyama selected as Musical Advisor to aid in the creation of the new series with a trio of internationally renowned artists who have active solo, ensemble and teaching careers, including former members of the Tokyo String Quartet and of the Beaux Arts Trio.

“I believe Heiichiro brought me on because I’m a younger player who already travels a lot and has his eye on who the great players are of my generation as well as newer great music that may not have been heard in town yet,” Beilman said in an interview last month. “I think the idea is for me to get to know the community and maybe step in for him when the time comes that he wants to enjoy the music from the other side of the stage.”

For his part, saying yes to the offer was a no-brainer, Beilman said. “Having turned thirty, I’ve started to realize that you don’t have to worry about so much, because the things you want to take a chance on have little downside. Most of my work is playing concertos with orchestras, but there’s a deeper satisfaction in making incredible music with dear friends of all ages. I’m thrilled to see what happens from Heiichiro’s strong connection with Santa Barbara, and mine with him, to hopefully create a very long relationship.”

To that end, the February 8 program features Beilman performing with violinist Ida Kavafian, his teacher at the Curtis Institute, on Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56, and joining Ohyama, pianist Louis Schwizgebel and cellist Clive Greensmith (a 14-year member of the Tokyo String Quartet) for Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25. The program closes with Beethoven’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 16a performed by Schwizgebel, Kavafian, Ohyama and Greensmith. The players reunite the following afternoon for Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, before Kavafian and Schwizgebel play Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A Major, Op. 12 No. 2. Beilman and Greensmith then close out the festival with Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7.


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